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Automatic Recount Thresholds

Automatic Recounts

7/8/2014

Introduction

chalkboardNot all states offer a recount process in the case of close elections. In some states, a defeated candidate’s only remedy is to contest the result of the election in court. Twenty states and the District of Columbia provide for automatic recounts, which are conducted if the margin between the top two candidates is within certain parameters. In other states, a losing candidate or a voter may request a recount. Below are the thresholds for states with automatic recounts.

Requesting a Recount

  • 43 states permit a losing candidate, a voter, a group of voters or other concerned parties to petition for a recount.
  • In a few states, the vote totals for the top two candidates must be within a specified margin in order for the losing candidate to be able to request a recount. For example, in Idaho, a candidate may petition for a recount if the difference between the requesting and winning candidates is less than 0.1 percent of the total votes cast for the office.
  • In at least five states, a political party officer can request a recount, and in at least 17 states, a voter can petition for a recount.

Recount Costs

In most of the states that permit a candidate or other interested party to demand a recount, the petitioner is required to pay a deposit toward the cost of conducting the recount. If the recount reverses the result of the election, that person’s deposit is refunded. If the recount does not change election results, the petitioner is required to pay most of the costs associated with the recount. Automatic recounts are paid for by the state or county that conducts the recount.

 

Automatic Recounts

State

Trigger Margin

Alabama

Ala. Code § 17-16-20

Less than 0.5% of votes cast for the office or measure

Alaska

AS §15.20.430

Tie vote

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-661 – 16-666

Less than or equal to the lesser of the following:  0.1% of votes cast for both candidates; or 200 votes for state offices, 50 votes for legislature

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-10.5-101, 1-10.5-102, 1-10.5-103, 1-10.5-106, 31-10-1207

Less than or equal to 0.5% of highest vote cast in the contest

Connecticut

Gen. Stat. §9-311a

Less than 0.5% of total votes cast for office but not more than 2,000 votes; or margin of less than 20 votes

Delaware

Del. Code tit. 15, §5702(e)

Absentee ballots are recounted if the number of votes separating the top two candidates is 1,000 (in a statewide contest) or 0.5% (in any contest) of all votes cast for the two candidates, whichever is less

District of Columbia

Less than 1% of the total votes cast for office

Florida

Fla. Stat. §102.141(7)

0.5% or less of votes cast for office or issue

Michigan

MCGL §168.880a

2,000 votes or less for statewide elections

Minnesota

Minn. Statutes § 204C.35

Less than 0.5% of the total votes cast for the office; or 10 votes or less if the total votes cast for the office are 400 or fewer

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-1119

1% or less of the votes received by the candidate with the most votes, if more than 500 votes were cast; or

2% or less of the votes received by the candidate with the most votes, if 500 or fewer votes were cast

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-14-24

Less than 0.5% of the total votes cast for that office in that election

North Dakota

ND Century Code §16.1-16-01

Primary –1% or less of highest vote cast for that office

General –0.5% or less of highest vote cast for that office

Ballot Measures -- 0.25% or less of total vote cast for measure

Ohio

Ohio Revised Code § 3515.01 – 3515.071

0.25% or less for statewide office

0.5% for other offices

Oregon

ORS §258.280

Tie vote, or not more than 0.2% of total votes cast for top two candidates

Pennsylvania

Pa. Cons. Stat., tit. 25, § 3154

0.5% or less for a candidate for public office which appears on the ballot in every district in the Commonwealth

South Carolina

SC Code §7-17-280

Less than 1% of total votes cast for the office

South Dakota

SDCL §12-21-16

Tie vote

Texas

TX Elec. Code §216.001

Tie vote

Washington

RCW §29A.64.021

Less than 2,000 votes and also less than .5%

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. §22-16-109

When the difference in number of votes cast for the winning candidate receiving the least number of votes and the number of votes cast for the losing candidate receiving the greatest number of votes is less than 1% of the number of votes cast for the winning candidate receiving the least number of votes cast for that office

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
July 2014

 

 

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